American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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Policy briefs

From the October ACP Observer, copyright © 2005 by the American College of Physicians.

College members urged to contact representatives

ACP is calling on all College members to contact their representatives and senators to urge their support of physician payment reform and Medicare quality improvement.

Congress faces a full agenda and very few legislative days to complete its work for the session. The College's Medicare payment and quality agenda will be competing with Hurricane Katrina, the John Roberts hearings, unfinished appropriations bills (only two of 13 have passed), debate on efforts to find $10 billion in Medicaid savings, and proposals for new Medicare spending, with required offsetting savings.

Unless Congress acts soon, the projected 4.3% reduction in Medicare payments to physicians will go into effect Jan. 1. To make sure you receive notices to contact your representatives at critical points in the legislative process, enroll today as an ACP Legislative Key Contact.

Background information and sample letters are provided on the Web site of ACP Legislative Action Center. For more information about the Key Contact Program or assistance in enrolling, contact Tracy Novak, Grassroots Associate, at 800-338-2746, ext. 4532, or e-mail her at tnovak@acponline.org.

ACP, others present plan for phasing in pay for performance

The College and 70 other national medical societies have sent Congressional leaders a five-year plan to phase in pay for performance in Medicare.

The Aug. 23 letter that accompanied the plan pointed out that pay for performance would work only if Congress takes into account the diversity of clinical practices across the country and moves to eliminate the sustainable growth rate formula (SGR). Maintaining the SGR, the letter said, would threaten physicians with financial loss and limit patient access. The SGR should be replaced with the Medical Economic Index, the letter said.

The framework proposed would establish:

  • Pay-for-performance pilot programs in 2006.
  • Basic quality information reporting in 2007.
  • Performance data feedback to physicians in 2008 and 2009.
  • A certain percentage of Medicare payments for all physicians based on quality performance.

The letter and framework are online.

ACP Services strengthens the voice of internal medicine on Capitol Hill

With the 109th Congress poised to take action on several key health bills—including legislation to block pending cuts in the Medicare physician fee schedule—ACP and ACP Services Inc. have stepped up their advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill on issues such as unfair reimbursement rates, skyrocketing medical liability costs and the growing number of uninsured Americans. In addition, ACP Services Inc. established ACP Services PAC to complement its advocacy efforts on behalf of internists and their patients.

ACP Services PAC contributes to congressional candidates who serve on key health committees and whose voting records and positions are consistent with the specialty's legislative priorities. Through its involvement in the political process, the PAC helps the specialty strengthen its voice on Capitol Hill and shape public policy to be more responsive to the needs of internists and their patients.

The ACP Services Board of Directors recently expanded the PAC board to include representation from the state of Texas and from young physicians. F. David Winter, FACP, from Dallas, and Shakaib U. Rehman, FACP, from Mt. Pleasant, S.C., were appointed for two-year terms that expire in July 2007.

The ACP Services Board of Directors also reappointed the following PAC Board Members for two-year terms:

  • John F. DeCarli, FACP
  • Paul A. Gitman, FACP
  • Edward D. Harris Jr., FACP
  • Richard L. Neubauer, FACP

More information is online.

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